There are a variety of reasons why individuals would need to obtain their medical records. First and foremost, they are your personal records. This is your private information that you have a right to obtain anytime you want. However, actually obtaining medical records can seem like a challenging process, and it is important for you to understand the steps you need to take to do so as quickly and conveniently as possible. Federal laws dictate the privacy surrounding medical records, but state law also reinforces these privacy standards.

The Law Allows You to Have Access to Your Medical Records

When we look at California Health & Safety Code section 123100 et seq., we can see that every patient in California has a right to view and receive copies of their medical records. However, there are certain conditions and requirements that must be met in order for a person to receive these records.

Specifically, the law states that a person can only recover copies of their own medical records, and the law does not specify anything about a person having the right to transfer the records from one health care provider to another or to provide their records to attorneys or insurance carriers. No statute covers medical record transfer.

Obtaining Your Records

The Medical Board of California says that individuals are allowed to make a written request to either review or obtain copies of their medical records under state law.

But how does an individual go about making this request?

The process of obtaining medical records is different depending on the facility that you are trying to get them from. Even though the law states that individuals do have a right to obtain their medical records, medical agencies have varying policies regarding how this occurs. In many cases, health care providers have systems in place where individuals can access a “patient portal” online that has all of their medical records from that particular agency. From there, individuals can typically print out any records that they need or forward them on to appropriate entities.

However, in the event individuals need to obtain physical copies of their medical records from a provider, the law does allow the provider to charge $0.25 per page as well as a reasonable clerical fee. Additionally, with allows individuals to be charged the actual cost of copying films for records such as MRIs, X-Rays, CT scans, and PET scans.

There are exceptions to this. Patients or personal representatives of patients are entitled to these copies at no charge if they can present the provider with a written request and show proof that they are the recipient of a public benefit program. This includes “Medi-Cal program, the In-Home Supportive Services Program, the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program, social security disability insurance benefits, Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Program for the Aged, Blind and Disabled (SSI/SSP)benefits, federal veterans service-connected compensation and nonservice-connected pension disability benefits, and CalFresh.”

Working With Your Attorney

If you or somebody you love has been injured due to the negligence of another, your attorney can help you go through the process of obtaining your medical records. These records are vitally important in any medical malpractice case.  You need to have a lawyer by your side who can investigate your claim and help you recover total compensation for your losses.